Archive for the ‘Expedition’ Category

Lake Wanaka, Lake Dunstan and the West Coast in September…

September 24th, 2015 No comments

About a year ago I noticed some good looking water on Lake Wanaka from the top of Rocky Mountain. The weekend before last I went to check it out. The day was perfect, little or no wind with bright sunshine. I spotted the edges and saw very few cruisers. The few I cast to were extremely spooky and just fecked off from even the most delicate presentation. I was there for about 2 hours without catching before I started putting it together. I noticed some fish rising well out, some in range, all sporadic. I saw a few chironomid on the top. I thought it would be worth putting on a team of two buzzers on a long 4lb tippet and fishing it blind. After about an hour I got one. Once I found a reasonable concentration of fish I got a few more. It went to plan! I found a few fish and figured out what they were at and got some. When fish are difficult to catch it makes it all the more rewarding when you do catch! It’s worth mentioning that as I get older I’m getting more disciplined in this type of fishing. In the past I needed to be doing more. Stripping I guess! Now I can stay focussed while just staying in touch with my flies for as long as it takes. Like my father! Alhough it will be many more years before I come close to his skill level with a team of buzzers.

The following day I went to Dunstan, my home water. It never fails! I know it well at this stage. After my buzzer fishing on Lake Wanaka the day before it seemed like the right choice for Dunstan too. I battled the silt and blind fished the water in front of me as I steadily walked to keep covering new water. Critical when blind fishing. The more water you cover the more fish you cover, it’s as simple as that. I had about 10 fighting fit browns and a rainbow, mostly on the buzzer. In the afternoon I tried out some new water on the lower Kawarau. I had a couple on the woolly bugger. Another great day, Its always a bonus to successfully try out some new water.. Great to catch up with Mike Wilkinson, Kevin and Alan Mc Intire on the lake too!

The weekend just passed was a mission to the coast. The forecast was for sun and light winds. Ideal conditions. It turned out we had very strong wind for most of Saturday. That coupled with big surf made the going difficult. I heaved out the flies all day long to no avail. I might have had one touch but probably not. Iza, on the other hand, did well. Her soft plastic fish imitation fooled 2 trout and a Kahawai. One of her trout was the fattest seatrout I’ve seen on the coast. Stuffed to the gills with something, whitebait or toheroa most likely. One of the Wakitipu Anglers Club members had a  trout stuffed with toheroa! On Sunday the winds were light and there were very few people around, not even whitebaiters. With the place to ourselves we still couldn’t get a fish. Not even on Iza’s spin gear. I hooked and lost a good trout in the morning which was the highlight of my fishing for the weekend. The Wakitipu Anglers club, with which I’m a member, also had a gathering there at the weekend. I haven’t heard many results but I don’t think many were caught from the river mouths. This is usually a great time of year over there so I don ‘t know why the fishing was so bad. The whitebaiters are saying that the bait has not turned up yet so maybe its all about to happen…

I’m taking bookings for the season ahead, so if you’d like me to guide you on your NZ trout adventure contact me here! You know you’ll be in good hands.. October is only a week away! (

Tight lines, another weekend is almost upon us!


ps..      If your in this area the Wakitipu Anglers Club is a great club to be a part of!



Omarama in September…

September 11th, 2015 No comments

Another weekend has landed. I live for my time on the water. In Ireland it rarely bothered me too much if I missed a weekend on the water, I guess with my friends and lifestyle over there things were just different. Here in NZ I can’t miss weekends fishing. I need 2 days a week on the water minimum, winter or summer..

Last weekend Iza and I went to Omarama. The forecast was for snow and the road-signs were saying that snow-chains were essential to get over the Lindis. Thankfully there was little snow on the Lindis Pass and the weather for the weekend was mostly sunny but cold.  We stayed in Buscot Station Backpackers as usual. It’s our home away from home and the perfect base for an angler.

We fished Benmore in two different areas over the two days. Each place had plenty of fish. There were lots cruising the edges so these took up most of our time. When sight fishing is available it’s hard not to take it! On a few occasions blind fishing the bugger was called for which also worked. I didn’t fish dries but there were a few fish taking off the top too.

If you’re at a loose end this weekend, Benmore is fishing well, it always does! I might go back actually..

Tight Lines!


PS, I’m in the process of setting up a guiding business! So I’ll be trying to put this NZ trout fishing experience to good use. I hope to be up and running this October 1st. Please feel free to contact me at for bookings and information.

When Pike Attack!

August 29th, 2015 No comments

Paul and I first met John Newman (aka, John the Pom) in his home in Tasmania in 2009. We had loads in common. We enjoyed the finer things in life such as Frank Zappa, moonshine, sealsfur, Hairy Castles, the local pub, The Sheep Shearers Ball and fly-fishing. With such things in common a life long friendship was inevitable.

John emailed me recently to tell me that he was going to be in Ireland in August and he wanted some information on where to go to catch a pike on the fly. As luck would have it I was going to be in the country at the time so a date was set to chase down a Corrib pike.

Sometimes a day afloat is as much about having the craic as it is about catching a fish. This was definitely one of those days. In fact, the craic was probably more important. The fishing was shite anyway. We put in a serious effort none the less. We went to parts of the 44’000 acre lough where John O Malley and myself had great sport in the past with fish to well over 20lbs. The big girls were not out to play however. On the bright side though, John got his first ever pike, and his second which got his first ever human (see pic!). The time-space continuum nicely in balance!

John and John, It was a great day!


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NZ – Vietnam – Ireland – Jordan – NZ…

August 27th, 2015 No comments

Iza and I are just back in NZ after our multi-country adventure. For the first month we did our own thing before meeting up in Ireland for my sisters wedding. I only did a days fruitless fishing in Vietnam, the rest of the time I was tearing around the country on the back of my brothers motorbike. We also made time to drink the worst beer in the world, eat some of the best food in the world and see the sights. I also only did one days fishing in Jordan with limited success. Don’t get your hopes up about seeing anything amazing but I will have some good information on Jordan’s fly fishing potential.. The rest of the time in Jordan was spent diving and snorkeling in the Red Sea. Fishing was not priority (for a change) for much of the trip but I had a few weeks at home in the west of Ireland where it was. Some of the fishing was excellent, mostly on Lough Inagh for grilse and Kylemore Lough for big sea-trout. I’m not sure when exactly I’ll be able to put a report together but it will include salmon, seat-rout, brown trout, pike, some saltfly and being hospitalized in a military hospital in the south of Jordan, actually, that’s enough said about the latter. It was hell.

The photo’s below are from before we left NZ about 9 weeks ago. My intention was to get a report out before we left but better late than never! Some good stuff to come but I’m waiting on a memory card in the post from Ireland so a NZ report may come first. Needless to say I’ll be on the water all weekend!

It’s good to be back!


Just over a month to October 1st!         Groovy…

The Mighty Clutha…

June 11th, 2015 No comments

There’s still a bag of venison mince in the freezer from the deer I shot last January and now its well topped up with wild pork from a recent mission up the hill with Kevin. I try to keep a good stock of trout fillets in the freezer too. It makes sense to live off the land and water as much as possible. The lake is stuffed with trout and the hills alive with rabbits, hares, pigs and deer. Ducks, geese and swans are all fair game too. I’ll be looking into buying my own rifle soon now that I’m officially a New Zealand resident! They wouldn’t give me a gun in Ireland for some reason.

The Clutha has finally thrown me a bone. It’s a river I’ve never really liked. I remember hearing about  “the highest biomass of fish in NZ” at Deans Bank a number of years ago, but the 2 or 3 times I fished it I blanked. On the rare occasion that I’d explore a section of the river I’d find nothing and feel like there was no chance of catching. Its a very fast flowing, monster of a river. This in itself does not deter me from it, not at all, but it is the reason I have not done so well on it. Recently I decided I’d have another crack. I studied it with google earth looking for feature. Anything from large bends, backwaters, side-braids, stable banks with slow moving water, whatever! I found a number of areas to be worth a look. The first on the list was a nice side-braid so I went to check it out a few weeks ago. Access is not readily available but I got permission from the farmer and walked from the road about 2ks to the river. The braid has been very interesting the 3 times I’ve fished it recently. There were never heaps of fish but always a decent amount. They seemed to be in different types of water each time I went. I’ve had a good mix of browns and rainbows from about a pound to 5lbs. All on streamers but nymphs would have worked too. June is the most difficult month to find good fishing in NZ, so this little spot has been a ray of light. I’ve had some great sight fishing with streamers which is a really exciting way to catch a trout. Whether a cast to a sighted fish results in an eat or not, watching the response is always absorbing and enjoyable. Sometime he bolts for cover, other times there’s a cautious follow and sometimes he’ll just smash it as hard and as fast as he’s able. Blind fishing likely water has also resulted in quite a few trout.

The nicest thing about this little braid is the fact that at the end of the day I’m back to where I started. No big walk out. I fish the braid upstream to where it begins at the main river, then fish the main river downstream to where the braid comes back in, from there I fish back up the braid to where I started. There’s a huge riffle on the main river in the vicinity the start of the braid. This has been fantastic for one to 2lb rainbows. It’s ideal nymph water so I gave them a run on one occasion but  only had one take. I fished it back down with my possum streamer and had 4.

I don’t normally write about casting but I found myself using an interesting technique while fishing the riffle mentioned it the paragraph above. I’ll share it with you, but first I’ll put it in the context of the type of fishing I was doing. I was fishing a weighted streamer on a clear intermediate line and had no stripping basket. I was standing nee deep in a huge riffle, current flowing to my right (and I’m right handed). I wanted to put a long cast upstream and across at about 45 degrees, let it sink as it drifted downstream, then retrieve while taking a few steps down river. I didn’t want to feel the weight of the current on my fly-line which is why I take a few steps downstream during my retrieve, I want to feel as though my streamer is coming across the current in a fairly natural manner, not bolting around on the swing. At the end of the drift my fly is hanging downstream below the rod tip. The slack line is also hanging downstream below me. To achieve the cast, I firstly roll the fly upriver, roughly at the angle I wanted to cast, then pick up the slack line in my left hand letting the strong current take the strain thus “loading” my hand, with a flick of the arm and wrist all the slack fly line would shoot up river. Immediately after that, I reach forward with my left hand and grab the line to haul into my back-cast, picking the short amount of line from the water as is drifts down river in front of me. As the slack line drifts back downstream towards and passed me, the lack of resistance from the current allows me to easily haul all the slack line from the fast water and make the desired cast. The cast is very hard to achieve if all the slack sinking line remains downstream under the weight of the current. Okay, quite hard to describe. If you understand what I just tried to explain, well done. I hope it benefits you some time!

There’s another braid I hope to check out soon and I just discovered that the Hawea River is open all year round. Groovy.

This weekend starts tomorrow. No plan as yet. Iza and I will go somewhere. This time 2 weeks I’ll be with my brother in Vietnam, then Ireland for 6 weeks then Jordan for 2. The countdown has started!

Tight lines all!



A Great Season Ends With Exciting Prospects..

May 18th, 2015 No comments

Another river season has come to an end. Many rivers are still open in May but I find myself looking toward other options -  lakes, river mouths, the canals or possibly the West Coast. Prior to a recent mission to the canals I did a little research on surrounding lakes, tarns and rivers to see if any remained open in May. As it turned out, all were closed since April 30th but it gave me lots of new ideas for next season. I’m actually pretty excited about it. There are some spring creeks, tarns and rivers that I’ve never fished, new territory to explore and some of it is not too far away. That’s one of the amazing things about this country; waterways in abundance and always something new to check out if you make the time to explore. Try something new instead of the tried and trusted.

Mark Adamson, Robbie Mcphee and myself finished off the brown trout season with a 3 day mission on a river we all enjoy. The fish were difficult, not really looking at our offerings at all but we all managed a few fish. We had a fantastic hut to stay in and the craic between the 3 of us in the evenings was as good as the fishing. I had a bad cold to deal with and deal with it I did with a few hot whiskeys. Mark had a couple too just because they’re a great drink to warm up the bones after a cold day on the river. The story of our trip is told in the photos below.

The lakes in central are fishing well! Iza and I had a great trip there 2 weeks ago. We had plenty cruising rainbows to fish for in certain spots and browns in others. I got my fathers buzzers working on Benmore too which is always a pleasure. It’s a very underrated, or more to the point, unknown way to catch trout here in NZ. When they work, they really work!

Finally, Trevor Bourne, a long time sexylooper has just moved to Wanaka from the UK to build Epic fly rods for Carl Mcneil. you’ll be seeing more of him up here. An all round good bugger and great angler. Welcome Trevor! And Happy Birthday..

Tight lines.. Winter is not closed season, its just the winter season!


Ps, please share on facebook or subscribe if you enjoy this!

Me and Robbie Mcphee.

April 28th, 2015 No comments

As the rain got heavier the steep track from the hut was looking increasingly foreboding. I was trying to politely rush Robbie along, “Oh, your waiting on me are you?” he said, relaxed, as always. “We better move or we wont get up the hill” I said. We left the hut, wipers on full, low range gear box engaged. With only a couple of minor slips we were up the hill and onto the plateau. Relieved to be over that hurdle, we continued. The farm track had turned to mud and was as slippery as all fuck. The only option was to drive out at a snails pace. This I did. To err on the side of caution I stayed on the side of the track that didn’t have a 300m drop on it. This lead me to slipping off into a ditch. We got out of the truck into the pissing rain and gathered what rocks we could find to wedge under the wheels. After about 30 miserable minutes getting soaked and straining my back lifting big rocks, we got the truck out of the ditch and continued. Sitting in the truck, soaked, back hurting, I just wanted to get out of the place. Robbie briefly had the same idea but shortly after he said “Well, were here to fish, aren’t we?”. That we were! The words hardly left his mouth when we slipped off the track again, a sudden jolt into the ditch. I turned to Robbie to see if he was okay, he looked a bit shook with a mark on his forehead and the rear view mirror had turned around. He was getting a little whiter and his head hurt a bit but he was fine. Due to the decline in the track the truck popped out of this one no worries at all. Another kilometre or 2 down the track we were at a good point to drop into the river to fish a favourite pool of ours. We gathered some motivation, put on some dry clothes and started the long and steep decent through terraced hillside, beech forest and into a gorge. On arrival, the river was clear but the rain kept coming. We knew our time was limited, the river was bound to blow out. We saw 2 trout, Robbie got one and I got the other. Then at the head of the pool I saw another. As I fished to him he became harder and harder to see as the river got dirtier. He made four pretty full on but failed attacks at my streamer and then fecked off. It was time we did too, we did not want to get stuck on the wrong side of the rapidly rising river! I took a few quick blind shots up into the head of the pool with a heavily weighted streamer, got a cracking 7lber and then we left the gorge. We climbed back up the mountainside to the truck. On the drive out we had no more slips and managed to fish for another couple of hours when we got to the safety of the non-gorge.

The Hilux has been through the mill lately. 4x4ing is certainly something one gets better at. Like anything, when you have nobody to teach you the learning curve is not very steep! I think I need full on mud tires instead of my All Terrain ones. Also dif-lock, a winch, a snorkel, some proper tow ropes and as Robbie advised, a lesson! I’ll keep trying and hopefully I wont kill the truck doing it.




When Trout Eat Mice…

April 15th, 2015 4 comments

The Mouse year of all mouse years!

North Canterbury is enjoying what is probably its biggest ever mouse plague. The trout have been gorging on mice all season and on some rivers double figure trout are now common. I heard of an angler catching 17 doubles this season, another 28 and the most insane figure of all, a friend of mine, who I won’t name because I think he prefers anonymity, had 42 when we last spoke over a week ago. His best was 16.5 weighed on a digital scale. He saw one weigh in at 17.75.

Jeff and I decided to have a crack before the season ends. To be honest, I was not that keen on going at first, even with the prospect of catching a very large trout. I thought there would be anglers everywhere and the fishing would be painful because of it, getting jumped on every turn. Jeff twisted my arm, I phoned a friend up there and that fired me up a bit more. We were going. We’d take it whatever way we found it, even if that meant only having a pool or two to ourselves. We’d just join in the madness!

After a 7 hour drive we arrived at 2am and made camp. There were signs that the area had been busy with campers with all the rectangular patches of flattened grass, but we could see no other tents in the darkness.

The next day we realised that there were indeed lots of anglers about. We carefully selected our water each day and managed, both by design and good fortune, to have almost uninterrupted fishing over the 4 days and nights. Luckily on day one, even though we blanked during the day, we found 2 perfect pools for night fishing. Each day consisted of a 9am start, fish all day, back to camp around 6, have a beer or 2 and a snack as darkness fell, head off into the darkness to our 2 pools for a night fish, back to camp for dinner and beers and bed around 2am. If we knew that a total lunar eclipse was forecast for one of the nights, we would have been on the water for its duration. Unfortunately we were already back at camp when it begun and neither one of us could have been motivated to venture back out again. We just enjoyed it from our camp-fire!

We got a mixed bag weather wise; pissing rain, gales, blue skies, warm sun, icy mornings. We fished hard day and night over braided river and tight gorges to make the most of our time there. The mission was to catch a double figure brown which we succeeded in. I might go back before the season is out!

It was an incredible trip. I think it’s pretty well described in the photo’s below. Thanks, Jeff, for making it happen!

The Schnide

If you’re in no way competitive “The Schnide” wont effect you at all. Personally, I’m a little competitive. I want to fish well alongside my fishing partner. I want us both to have a great day. “The Schnide” is a term used by a few fella’s who guide in Western Alaska. The term describes that rut we find ourselves in from time to time, when nothing we do seems to work. It’s compounded by the fact that our fishing buddy is catching but were not!  There are few rules to help you out of “The Schnide”.

1. Don’t loose your cool. It will pass.

Actually, that’s it, One rule!

It can be difficult not to let it get to you. For example, on Jeff and my recent trip to North Canterbury, Jeff caught 2 very big fish to my zero on the first night. Of course I was delighted that he was getting it right but I also felt a little sting that I couldn’t put it together myself. The next day first blood to Jeff once again, and another big fish. At that point I had to keep my cool. Because I was in “The Schnide” no fish were turning up on my bank, If I was to swap banks with Jeff then there would be no fish on that side either but they’d show up on the bank I left, that’s the way it is. You just have to wait it out. When a shot does present itself (and it will) you must have the confidence to fish as well as you’re able to nail the chance. If you don’t, “The Schnide” gets deeper and harder to climb out of. I’ve seen fella’s so deep in “The Schnide” that they’re beaten before they even cast. I did not want to be that person. Jeff very graciously offered me a shot at a fish on his bank. Pickings were lean that day so I came across, took the shot, got the fish and “The Schnide” was over. A good fishing buddy can  help you out of “The Schnide”, so maybe the second rule could be, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”!

Tight lines and screaming reels!


Knowing your water…

April 9th, 2015 3 comments

I had some great fishing a couple of weekends ago on a difficult river. A river that demands intimate knowledge more than most. Slowly but surely I’m attaining that knowledge and where I once blanked quite often, now I rarely do. On my last trip I picked up fish blind in riffles, I sight fished a few and hooked a couple of free risers. A fantastic, well rounded day.

More recently Jeff and I went chasing big trout about a days drive north. I already had these pics selected for the blog so before I start on the big fish mission I’ll put this little one out. Watch this space! There will be big trout in the next one… very big!

Tight lines..


Old boots & Old friends…

March 25th, 2015 No comments

Recently I had an encounter with a trout I’d caught about 18 months ago. The fact that I had caught him before meant that I had no great need to catch him again, or so I thought before our re-encounter. I knew where he lived, during a day on the river I was never too pushed If I fished that pool or not. On this day I did get to the pool, I scoped it up and down and didn’t see him. I did see a smaller trout of about 4lbs but never managed to get a shot to that one. When I was leaving the pool I spotted my old friend in a slack back eddy at the head of the pool. He was cruising around sipping down dries like a 3lb brown in a Mataura backwater.. But this was no 3lber! He may well be a double by now considering he was 9.25lbs when I caught him. I didn’t hesitate in getting into position well away from the trout, my heart rate increasing. I quickly removed my nymphs so I had a single size 12 dry left on the cast, my go-to dry. I felt no need to put on a smaller one. The tippet was 4x, so nice and fine. The fish turned on his beat and I sent in my cast. I was as happy as I could have been with my shot.. I landed the fly well in front of the fish and a little to his right so that on approach to the fly most of the tippet would be on the other side of the fly. He cruised towards it, raised up in the water column just a little and then continued under my fly. After seeing my offering he went into high alert moving out of the slack water into moving water. Still maybe catchable but much more difficult. I changed tactics and put a nymph on. First attempt with the nymph and I picked up some scrub on my back-cast which landed beside my old friend. With that, he was gone. He didn’t bolt off, just cruised into the depths. I was haunted by him that night, every time I’d close my eyes I’d see that head on profile with pectoral fins like a jet plane, changing to a huge pink and green flank as he turned. Now I have to catch him again. (This is fly-fishing!)

I’ve had plenty other great days on the water since my last report. Jeff and I pushed into some new terrain and found more trout than we expected. We did pretty well, catching fish on dries and nymphs.

I caught up with my great friend Bob Toffler last weekend before he headed back to the States for another northern hemisphere season. We had a wonderful meal together cooked by Bob’s partner, Carol. The following day, Iza, Bob and I fished the Mataura where the hatch lasted from morning until evening! It was fantastic fun. I got to know Bob on a visit to the US about 13 years ago. He told me that he fishes in NZ every season, and he invited me to join him during my planned NZ visit. I took him up on his offer and we’ve been friends ever since meeting up a few times a season. Through Bob, I met Guy; through Guy, I met Paul and the rest is history still in the making.

That’s all for now, Enjoy the pics and feel free to subscribe if you’re new here and you like what you see!

Oh, and Happy 40th to Mike Wilkinson! He looks a day over 39. The party meant I didn’t fish on Sunday last! I doubt any one else did either… Jeff?